By week 4 I knew we would have to do a much larger shop, but I wanted to challenge myself even further. Inspired by the YouTube budget eating challenges from June from Budget Eats and Atomic Shrimp, I wanted to buy an entire weeks worth of groceries for as little as possible and eat just what I had purchased.
January is the quietest month in terms of birthdays and events
I needed something to kickstart a frugal mindset that I hope will carry me through the rest of the year.
I set myself some rules for the month:
Money can (and should!) be spent on rent, bills and essentials like groceries, toiletries and petrol.
Money can be spent on parking should an activity be free. The reason why I am including this is that we have several press reviews at the theatre coming up over January, and while the tickets are complimentary we pay a few pounds for parking.
Should I need to go somewhere, I am allowed to spend money on bus fare, but not on a taxi unless it is an emergency (Note: I never learned to drive, hence why I am including this).
I am not allowed to spend money on non-essential items, including new clothes, books, takeaways, snacks, meals out, taxis, drinks at the pub etc.
Week 1 was surprising. I figured that after the excess of Christmas the best way to cut back on spending was to start with food, and that’s exactly what I did. I spent £9.91 on groceries – mainly fresh fruit and veg – and combined that with the food left over in the cupboards, fridge and freezer. We had no takeaways, didn’t eat out anywhere and had no snacks at all. We also spent £10.50 on parking when we went to the theatre (we’re on the press team so the tickets were free), taking it to a grand total of £20.41. When looking at everything we would normally spend in a week, we saved about £111.
We continued into week 2 with the same criteria and mindset. I did a food shop again from Aldi, this time spending £8.25. We still had staples left over – potatoes, pasta, rice, frozen fish – and random boxes of frozen party food etc, so I followed the same pattern I had from the week before. I made three meals a day, utilised leftovers and got a little bit creative with some meals – who knew that vegetable samosas would go so well with homemade soup??
A no spend challenge is setting a period of time to spend as little money as possible. In my case the no spend challenge is lasting for a month (the entirety of January), but no spend challenges can be followed for one day a week, a weekend, a whole week, fortnight, month or even a year.
There can be numerous reasons to start a no spend challenge:
To get back on track financially after a period of excess – Christmas, birthdays, holidays etc.
To stop impulse spending and being more mindful of where your hard-earned money goes
To kickstart your savings
To pay off debts
To change your mindset towards money and finances
To help break addictions (eg. smoking)
To avoid becoming overwhelmed by the rapidly increasing cost of living
Personally, I am primarily doing a no spend challenge to start really building up my savings, be more mindful of how and when I spend my money, and to stop impulse spending on things that are irrelevant and unnecessary for the lifestyle I want.
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Right from the beginning of my wedding planning eighteen months ago, I was determined that I would do my absolute best to keep the costs as low as possible. Of course, I wanted the day to be beautiful, but our budget was small and I didn’t want us to still be paying it off for years after it was over.
Essentially, I wanted it to be as cheap as possible, but I didn’t want it to LOOK cheap.
The problem is, the minute the word ‘wedding’ is mentioned, the prices of everything are automatically increased and there are numerous places that aren’t always upfront about their total prices – we discovered that there were lots of hidden costs in all sorts of different areas.
The key to saving money lies in forward planning, lots of research, asking for help, being patient and shopping around. It also helped that we had a long engagement, giving us sufficient time to work out what we wanted and how much we were prepared to budget for it. Continue reading →
Choose your hotel wisely. When going on a city break, it’s more than likely that you will spend most of your time outside, but, for me at least, it’s important that the room is clean and you feel safe to leave possessions behind while you are out exploring. We did very little research on this, but were extremely lucky with what we booked. The Hotel Sant Augusti was exactly that – clean, safe and in a fabulous location, being right next to one of the main metro lines, La Bouquiera Market, the beach, The Gothic Quarter and La Rambla. It also served a buffet breakfast every morning from 7.30am – 11.00am and had free wi-fi, which was useful when keeping in contact with loved ones.
Work out in advance what it is that you really want to see, and where possible, book tickets online before you go as there are enormous queues and long waits for the main attractions. For example, we arrived at La Sagrada Familia early, but had to queue for about half an hour to buy a ticket and then waited a further three hours before we were allowed in as there were timed entrance spots. It may be also useful to take a guidebook and print off maps of the areas you wish to travel to in advance – we had to buy a map when we were there and soon discovered that it was poorly labelled and many of the sights were in the wrong place. Continue reading →